Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > August 2015 > BONNIE'S GARDEN--Bearded Iris


I know fall is looming on the horizon when the bearded iris rhizomes arrive in the store.  We just got ours in this week so fall can’t be far behind.
Iris are a genus of over 250 flowering plants.  The word “iris” is from the Greek word for rainbow—appropriate since they come in a wide range of colors—from white to purple-black.  Iris are perennials and grow from either rhizomes or bulbs.  Nearly all iris are native to the Northern Hemisphere from Europe to Asia.
Iris flowers have six petals—three upright petals called ‘standards’ and three lower petals called “falls.”  Bearded iris are so called because of the fluffy line down the middle of each fall and grow from rhizomes (a stem that creeps along the ground, growing foliage from the top and roots from the bottom.)  We also carry the bulbs for Dutch Iris, which are sturdy upright flowers, about 24” tall, and for miniature iris (reticulatas, danfordiaes, etc.) which grow about 6 inches tall and bloom in very late winter—about the same time as crocus.
Bearded iris—sometimes called German Bearded Iris—are sturdy easy-to-grow plants needing only a sunny spot and well-drained soil.  The rhizomes are available in late-summer/early fall.  Bearded iris have bigger showier flowers than other iris.  Depending on the variety, they will bloom anytime from mid-May to mid-late June. 
To plant Bearded Iris, choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil.  The rhizomes come with roots and a fan of leaves at the top.  Plant the stem with the root side down, but the top of the stem exposed to light and air.  Top-dress lightly with Bulb-tone.  Feed again in the spring, when they start to come up.  For regular iris, you can just forget about them after they bloom, except in periods of drought. Keep all iris beds weeded and if you mulch, do not mulch over the top of the rhizomes.  Be sure to not let leaves accumulate in the iris bed as they can encourage rot. These are not plants that like in-ground sprinklers.
There are Bearded Iris that will bloom in the spring and, if conditions are to their liking, again in late summer/early fall.  If you have reblooming iris, then feed them lightly after they bloom the first time and keep them watered over the summer—remembering to let them dry out partly.  
Both Dutch iris and mini-iris bulbs usually come in around the first week of September and can be planted mid-October.  Like Bearded iris, they prefer full sun and well-draining soil.
Not only are iris tough, durable and perennial bloomers, but they are not generally bothered by pests—very important here in “Deer Country.”
Posted: 8/31/2015 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: Bearded, Bonnie's, Garden, Iris
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